Kara Walker, Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated): Exodus of Confederates from Atlanta, edition 21/35, 2005. Offset lithography and screenprint, 39 x 53 in. Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer. © Kara Walker

MARCH 9–JUNE 11, 2023

A leading artist of her generation, Kara Walker (b. 1969) works in a range of mediums, including prints, drawings, paintings, sculpture, film, and the large-scale silhouette cutouts for which she is perhaps most recognized. Her powerful and provocative images employ contradictions to critique the painful legacies of slavery, sexism, violence, imperialism, and other power structures, including those in the history and hierarchies of art and contemporary culture.

This exhibition offers a broad overview of her career through more than 80 works from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, premier collectors of works on paper in the United States. Some highlights of the exhibition are the complete Emancipation Approximation series and images from the Porgy & Bess series. Walker conducts extensive research in history, literature, art history, and popular culture. Her work is intentionally unsentimental and ambiguous.

This exhibition originated at the Frist Art Museum in Nashville, Tenn., and was co-curated by former Frist Art Museum executive director and CEO Dr. Susan H. Edwards and poet Ciona Rouse. In addition to her curatorial responsibilities, Rouse composed original poems inspired by Walker’s works, which live inside the exhibition. At Virginia MOCA, Cut to the Quick will be guest curated by Rouse with Virginia MOCA Senior Curator Heather Hakimzadeh.

Please take care when viewing the artwork. We understand that the works on view are complex, challenging, and possibly triggering—so we invite you into the Hold Space Place in the gallery. The Hold Space Place designed by Get Well Soon is a quiet space for you to rest and reflect.

JSFF - Stacked wWeb - CMYK


At age 14, Jordan D. Schnitzer bought his first work of art from his mother’s Portland, Oregon contemporary art gallery, evolving into a lifelong avocation as a collector. He began collecting contemporary prints and multiples in earnest in 1988. Today, the collection has become one of the most important post-war and contemporary collections in all mediums, exceeding 20,000 objects and has grown to be the country’s largest private collection of prints and multiples. He generously lends work from his collection to qualified institutions with no additional fees. The Foundation has organized over 160 exhibitions and has had art exhibited at over 120 museums. Mr. Schnitzer is also President of Schnitzer Properties, a privately owned real estate investment company based in Portland.

The Foundation was established in 1997 as a non-profit organization to manage the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation. The Foundation publishes scholarly brochures, exhibition catalogues, and catalogues raisonnés in conjunction with exhibitions drawn from the collections. The Foundation also funds museum outreach and programming—especially to lesser served communities—furthering the mission of letting artists speak to us, through their art, on important issues facing society.

For more information go to jordanschnitzer.org


In the summer of 2022, Virginia MOCA invited a group of cultural and political figures, academics, artists, and community members to serve on an advisory committee in preparation for the Museum’s presentation of Cut to the Quick. Convening periodically over a period of several months, the group provided crucial insight and feedback that helped shape the exhibition’s interpretive frameworks, installation design, and related programming. Working hand in hand with Virginia MOCA staff members, the committee conceived a series of public programs inspired by and responding to the exhibition, helping to bring the questions and conversations provoked by Walker’s work outside of the Museum walls and into the community.

Zahra Ahmad, Founder, Get Well Soon

Paula L. Bazemore, Hampton Roads Program Manager, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities

Susan Cohen, Virginia MOCA Trustee

Michelle Ellis Young, Chief Executive Officer, YWCA South Hampton Roads

Lauren Francis, Associate Producer, With Good Reason, Virginia Humanities

Asa Jackson, Executive Director, Contemporary Arts Network

Latisha James, Executive Vice President External Affairs & Operations, Urban League of Hampton Roads

Dr. Vanessa D. Thaxton-Ward, Director, Hampton University Museum and Archives

Virginia Thornton, Founder, Get Well Soon

Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond, Founder & Chairman, Virginia African American Cultural Center


Kara Walker’s works explores the themes of racial trauma, sexual violence, and enslavement—engaging with this exhibition may bring up painful and complex feelings, especially for those who have experienced trauma or are otherwise connected to the issues presented in Walker’s art. In partnership with YWCA South Hampton Roads, here is a list of resources to offer additional context and support.



Kara Walker, Boo-hoo (for Parkett no. 59), edition PP 5/6, 2000. Linocut, 40 x 20 1/2 in. Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation, 2003.13. © Kara Walker

Kara Walker. An Unpeopled Land in Uncharted Waters: no world, edition 19/30, 2010. Etching with aquatint, sugar lift, spitbite, and drypoint, 27 x 39 in. Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation, 2011.114a. © Kara Walker

Kara Walker.False Face, edition 1/10, 2017, bronze, 13 x 18 1/4 x 1 1/4 In. Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer, 2017.488, © Kara Walker

Kara Walker, Porgy & Bess: Porgy and Bess, embracing, 2013 Book with 16 black and white lithographs, 4 lithographs on mouldmade paper 12.5 x 9.75 inches, 108 numbered pages for the text, plus 16 leaves for the lithographs Edition 6 of 40. Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer. © Kara Walker


Teaching with Art: Kara Walker and Fort Monroe

March 15, 2023 | 5:00 PM

This free, professional development program for educators will focus on our current exhibition Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick and how the artist uses primary sources to provide historical context to her work. We will be joined by Fort Monroe’s Education Programs Manager Jessica Meadows to unpack some of these stories and their relevancy to our region.

The goal of this workshop is to equip you with helpful tools for using contemporary artwork and primary sources in your curriculum and classrooms.


Lecture | An Evening with Annette Gordon-Reed

Friday, March 24 | 6:00 PM

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Annette Gordon-Reed is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard University and a professor of history in the University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Gordon-Reed is noted for changing scholarship on Thomas Jefferson regarding his relationship with Sally Hemings and her children.


Coffee + Conversation with Lauren Francis

Thursday, March 30 | 11:00 AM

Join us for a casual conversation exploring current exhibitions, led by Virginia MOCA staff and guest lecturers.

This month we will be joined by Lauren Francis, associate producer, With Good Reason, who will discuss selected works of art from Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick.


Community Day

Saturday, April 1 | 10:00 AM–4:00 PM

Join us for a Museum-wide activation, presented in partnership with the Virginia African American Cultural Center, encouraging intergenerational conversation. Explore our current exhibitions, and join us for a day of performances, activities, artist demos, community resources, food, and more.


Norfolk State University Night at Virginia MOCA

Tuesday, April 18 | 6:00 PM

Virginia MOCA welcomes Norfolk State University (NSU) students, faculty, staff, and administrators for an evening of art and conversation. Explore the interdisciplinary connections found in Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick through a panel discussion and gallery tours led by NSU faculty, topics will include psychology, spociology, womanism/Black feminism, media, African American art, and history.

All are welcome to attend!


Coffee + Conversation with Dr. Khadijah Miller

Thursday, May 4 | 11:00 AM

Join us for a casual conversation exploring current exhibitions, led by Virginia MOCA staff and guest lecturers.

This month we will be joined by Dr. Khadijah O. Miller, professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and dean of Robert C. Nusbaum Honors College at Norfolk State University, who will discuss selected works of art from our current exhibition Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick.


Instagram Live Chat: CIona Rouse

Wednesday, May 10 | 11:00 AM

Join Senior Curator Heather Hakimzadeh for a conversation with Ciona Rouse, poet and co-curator for Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick. Find us on Instagram @virginiamoca

Lecture: Valerie Cassel Oliver on Kara Walker

Thursday, May 11 | 6:30 PM

Valerie Cassel Oliver, Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), will discuss Kara Walker, her work, and her impact on the world of contemporary art.


Workshop: Exploring the Dynamic of Race

Tuesday, May 16 | 6:30 PM

Race plays a critical role in understanding experiences and perspectives in our society. Led by Paula L. Bazemore, Hampton Roads Program Manager, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, this community workshop provides an opportunity to make meaning of how socialization, access, and experience may be shaped by our racial identities. Participants will consider critical incidents in their lives connected to identity, and they will then learn about and apply an identity development framework to better understand the impact of race.


Get Well Soon Workshops

March–June 2023

A workshop series curated by Get Well Soon, a self-care sanctuary in Norfolk, Virginia.

Sound Healing Session with Ursi
Sunday, March 12 at 5:00 PM

Guided Meditation with Ce'Ara
Saturday, April 8 at 9:30 AM

Drawing Meditation with Rylan   Sunday, May 14 at 11:00 AM

Beyoncé Vinyasa Flow Yoga with Rylan
Sunday, June 11 at 9:00 AM

Instagram Live Chat: Trudy Gaba

Wednesday, June 7 | 11:00 AM

Join Senior Curator Heather Hakimzadeh for a conversation with Trudy Gaba, the Cincinnati Art Museum co-curator for Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick.

Find us on Instagram @virginiamoca.

Imagine Isabella: A Solo Performance

Thursday, June 8 | 6:30 PM

Imagine Isabella is a solo performance exploring the lives of Antony and Isabella, two of the first 20 enslaved Africans arriving at Point Comfort, Virginia in 1619, and their enslaver Captain Tucker. Performed inside the Virginia MOCA galleries, Imagine Isabella uses the artwork of Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick as a backdrop to bridge art and story.



Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick originated at the Frist Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. In this audio tour, you will hear the exhibition’s co-curator Ciona Rouse and the Frist Art Museum’s interpretation director Meagan Rust discuss selected works in the exhibition and offer prompts for guided looking and further reflection. You will also hear Ciona Rouse read the original poems she wrote in response to Walker’s works.


Programming Advisory Committee members and community ambassadors respond to Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick.

Filmed by Jeremy Bates Film.